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GuidesMarket researchAudience analysis: How to understand your audience better

Audience analysis: How to understand your audience better

Last updated

12 March 2023

Reviewed by

Cathy Heath

It’s truly an art to be able to create content that resonates with your audience. While you want the information to be clear and concise, you also want it to be memorable.

Audience analysis can help you better understand your audience, allowing you to adapt content and deliver it to keep your readers engaged.

What is audience analysis?

Audience analysis aims to understand your audience's characteristics, needs, interests, and expectations. This way, you can tailor your communications to their needs and preferences.

Educating, inspiring, persuading, and entertaining your audience means you have a better chance of attracting and retaining consumers. They’re more likely to become involved with your brand and purchase your products or services. An audience can include a broad range of people who have differing expectations.

Audience analysis helps you identify which consumers are most likely to be interested in hearing about your products. Collecting data will help you better understand your audience and allow you to learn more about who they are, their interests, attitudes, lifestyle, and beliefs.

Most audiences are interested in topics directly affecting them and their family members, co-workers, or community. Your content must be relatable to encourage engagement.

What are the basic audience analysis types?

Audience analysis considers the readers' expectations and determines their knowledge of the topic of discussion. They will be more likely to interact if they connect with your content.

Demographic

Demographic audience analysis provides a deep understanding of the identifying traits of an audience. People of different ages, religious backgrounds, and upbringings may respond differently to your content and brand. 

When collecting this sensitive information, it is imperative to be respectful with the questions you ask and never be presumptuous. 

Psychographic

This type of analysis assesses audience members' opinions, attitudes, and beliefs. 

While most participants will already know about your products, they may have preconceived notions about what your brand can or cannot offer them. Biased ideas may change how you deliver content to your audience but be mindful not to attempt to change their minds; be compassionate of their feelings.

Situational

Situational analysis refers to any prior knowledge audience members may have about your brand. It can prove challenging to collect this data, especially when the target audience is worldwide.

Audience analysis example

A company that sells eco-friendly products may think they are attracting a specific worldwide audience that believes in the ethical treatment of animals, climate change, and sustainability. 

However, audience analysis could reveal several core audiences, with each group having distinct interests, such as veganism, recycling, or green energy. 

Why is audience analysis important?

In business, it’s vital to identify your target audience to determine the groups that will most likely purchase your products. Using tools such as audience analysis helps predict consumer action, allowing businesses to focus their marketing efforts on a specific group.

Providing relevant content can be difficult if you don't understand your intended audience. That’s why it’s essential to conduct audience analysis to identify people that want to hear your message. It can also help you determine what platforms to invest in and topics to cover.

Who should conduct an audience analysis?

A small team of communication, marketing, and public relations members is the best choice for conducting an audience analysis. You can utilize the following resources and methods to obtain in-depth, valuable information relating to your target audience:

  • One-on-one interviews

  • Focus group discussions

  • Open dialogue within the existing community

  • Taskforce engagement

  • Workshops

  • Consumer surveys

  • Project and market research

  • Media reports

  • U.S. Census data retrieval

  • Information from government sources, such as the Department of Human Services (DHS)

  • School and community events

  • Google Trends

  • Track marketing performance

When should a company conduct audience analysis?

The best time to conduct an audience analysis is at the start of a new program or project. It typically takes about four weeks to complete an audience analysis.

What is included in an audience analysis?

Before starting an audience analysis, it’s crucial to identify potential audience members who may be interested or affected by the content you are creating. To determine your priority audience, factors to consider include:

  • The demographic most affected by the content

  • The size of the audience 

  • The behavior you want to achieve (i.e., purchasing a product or following on social media)

  • How persuasive you need to be to convince a consumer to try your product or service

  • The household member that controls and monitors spending behavior

When considering new products or services, most audience members will consider the following factors:

  • Availability: Is your product available regularly, or do they have to wait to purchase?

  • Accessibility: Can people easily access the product with minimal effort or stress?

  • Affordability: Is the product affordable in terms of time, money, and cost of convenience?

  • Acceptability: Is it socially acceptable to use the product?

What are audience categories?

Every audience has specific characteristics, and we can categorize them as follows:

Socio-demographic

*Obtain information from DHS and U.S. Census Data

  • Gender (sex)

  • Age range

  • Highest education level 

  • Occupation

  • Income level

  • Ethnicity

  • Primary language 

  • Religion

  • Size of household

  • Number of children

Geographic

*Obtain information from local government and U.S. Census data

  • City

  • Urban

  • Rural

  • Region

  • District

Psychographic

*Obtain information from consumer surveys, project research, media reports, and other marketing tools

  • Primary concerns or needs

  • Hopes and dreams

  • Personal values

  • Interests

  • Hobbies

  • Opinions and attitudes

  • Personality traits

  • Lifestyle habits

How do you identify audience types?

Understanding what the priority audience wants, how they think, and what they feel will allow you to adapt your content to their interests. Tailoring information to deliver a relatable message based on the audience's beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors can provide significant advantages.

It is also essential to identify what discourages an audience and prevents them from engaging with your content. Some barriers to consider include the following:

  • Habit: Most people do not like changing how they do things and become accustomed to a routine that can be hard to persuade them to change.

  • Fear: Change can be scary to some people, especially those unwilling to face the negative consequences of a decision.

  • Negative experience: It can be hard to change someone’s mind if they’ve had a bad experience in the past. They may be resistant to doing something different or cynical about your intentions, no matter how well-intended they may be.

Types of audience analysis

Several types of audience analysis can prove beneficial. You should base your selection on what information you’re trying to obtain to deliver relevant content.

  • Social audience analysis uses extensive data from various social media platforms to help companies understand the behaviors of active users who may be interested in engaging with their brand.

  • Situational analysis includes the size of the preferred audience, their prior knowledge about the topic, attitude towards the brand, and awareness of your products displayed on social media channels, advertisements, or websites.

  • Branded audience analysis focuses on understanding the habits and behaviors of a specific brand, either your own or another company.

  • Unbranded audience analysis helps you understand consumers of a particular product with shared brand knowledge. Knowing more about them than this common bond can lead to successful unbranded audience analysis.

  • Competitor audience analysis interprets and identifies data relating to the audiences of competitive brands.

  • Demographic audience analysis categorizes a priority audience based on age range, gender, marital status, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.

  • Psychographic audience analysis depends on audience members revealing their attitudes, opinions, and beliefs about varying topics. It’s typically more difficult to obtain than basic demographic information. The challenge is identifying biases or stereotypes about your brand or competitors' products.

Known and unknown audiences: What's the difference?

Users on a website or app are part of an unknown audience until they sign into the platform and fill out a form. These users have not revealed any data about themselves to categorize them into a particular group, such as gender or age.

On the other hand, a known audience has provided information that helps you understand who they are and what they are about.

What is an audience profile?

An audience profile can bring the audience to life, giving content creators a vision of who will be engaging with their material. 

Collected data can include details on the following identifying traits:

  • Current behaviors

  • Motivation

  • Emotional attachment

  • Personal values

  • Attitudes

  • Age

  • Income level

  • Religion

  • Gender

  • Marital status

  • Geographic location

A brief paragraph containing the above-listed factors will create an audience profile for each responding member of the targeted audience. 

Asking some of the following questions can provide more insight into what the audience member is looking for in relative content:

  • What do they hope to accomplish in the next five years?

  • What do they value most in life?

  • What do they do for fun?

  • What are their feelings toward a specific product or service?

  • What does a typical day look like for them?

The more details the team can collect on an audience profile, the better, leading to more accurate and thought-provoking audience analysis.

How to conduct audience analysis

There are several steps to follow when conducting an audience analysis:

1. Choose helpful tools

While you can obtain mountains of data from social media platforms, analyzing the material can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. To avoid getting overwhelmed, use a reliable software program that simplifies the task and makes getting accurate results more efficient.

2. Ask clear and concise questions

Determine what you’re trying to gain from an audience analysis before starting, and ask specific questions to get to the point faster.

3. Determine your audience type

Decide on the audience you want to attract in advance. You can use your current customer list of active accounts for a branded audience or hashtags or keywords for an unbranded audience.

4. Create an audience report

Once you have determined your target audience, develop a report that contains all relevant information and collected data.

5. Answer your first question

Stay within your initial objective. Focus on what you want to learn from an audience analysis and use the collected data to answer that question.

How do you write an audience analysis?

The steps to writing an audience analysis are as follows:

  • Define what you want to achieve with the audience analysis

  • Identify the potential audience 

  • Select the priority audience

  • Identify the characteristics of the priority audience

  • Identify the audience’s practices, attitudes, and knowledge

  • Identify barriers

  • Consider audience segmentation

  • Identify key influencers (friends, family, community members, etc.)

  • Organize influencing audience information

  • Gather information and then analyze

  • Develop audience personas 

Uses of audience analysis research

An audience analysis can help you better understand potential customers while identifying new audiences. You can track trends, identify audience interests, and learn about influencers active in your segments. 

You can also use the information to identify new business opportunities and create specific marketing strategies more relevant to your targeted audience.

The bottom line

Audience analysis can lead to better content and help you deliver relevant information to your targeted audience. By establishing a realistic picture of who is reading your content, you can develop a message that resonates with your intended audience, getting the results you desire.

As an online brand, you may attract audiences worldwide, with each person having different identifying values and ideals. Using audience profiles, social media sites, and tracking purchase history can contribute to successful audience analysis and help you adapt content to reach your target audience.

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